This list has very little to do with Back to the Future II. However, I am writing it from the inside of a Delorean.
19. Pete Rock ft. Styles P & Sheek Louch-“914”
Released by Nature Sounds in January as the single from Pete Rock' s still shelved New York's Finest record, “914” has inevitably become a hit among rich kids in Westchester County, stoked that Yonkers and Scarsdale share an area code. Despite capable verses from Styles P and Sheek Louch (or as they're commonly known in Black Hebrew Circles: A Side of Lox), Rock owns the track without saying a word, with a beat full of filthy drums, muffled horns, and the grimy New York subway rattle that he made his name on.
18. Rich Boy-“Throw Some D's Out On It Remix”
How about we just start by listing the bad things about this song. First, of all it has Rich Boy on it. And I know people are really into the whole, “let's pretend that Rich Boy isn't completely garbage” thing, but I'm not hearing it. He's pretty awful. I even listened to his eponymous NAMBLA-enticing debut twice and both times Rich Boy's entreaties to be a “Hustla Boy Gangsta Mack” barely lured me in. Barely. Also, the “Throw Some D's Remix” has a verse from Murphy Lee talking about how my girl has a picture of him on her wall. This is not true. I don't date girls with pictures of St. Lunatics on my wall. In fact, I'm willing to bet that Murphy Lee's sister doesn't even have a picture of Murphy Lee on her wall. On the plus side, Andre 3000 kicks off his string of awesome '07 guest appearances, The Game rambles about Cadillacs and Jim Jones ad-libs the word, “Innocent,” while talking about his “kosher lawyers.” And sadly, this never fails to amuse me.
17. Lil Wayne-“Dipset”
Yes, I still think Lil Wayne is easily the most overrated rapper of our time and still believe that calling him the greatest rapper alive immediately discounts your opinion. However, overrated and bad aren't necessarily synonymous. In fact, on occasion Wayne almost lives up to the hyperbole. Think of him as hip-hop's Rob Deer. He strikes out way too much to be rightfully considered a superstar, but when he makes contact it goes a long way. [Insert Baby joke here]. Over the instrumental for “Reppin' Time,” Wayne's sneering stream of consciousness rant perfectly matches the beats swagger and bombast. Lyrically, it's so knowingly absurd you can't help but laugh. Although, I wouldn't recommend using Wayne's patented, “Bitch, I have a great idea…we should sex” theory, nor would I advocate only using “Cristal to pour over white bitches heads.” That's just superfluous.
16. Brother Ali-“Truth Is”
If Slug had written a single half this catchy, he'd probably have made some in-roads in the much-coveted Soulja Boy 13-year old white girl demographic. But Brother Ali has absolutely no commercial appeal. He's a strident, fire-breathing, Albino from Minneapolis who looks like a cross between Powder and a B-boy from Wild Style. He's also steadily improved since he broke in with Rhymesayers in 2002 to the point where he deservedly earned an opening slot supporting Ghost and Rakim on this year's Hip Hop Live! tour. With its huge hook, Ali's fierce preacher's cadence and Ant's umbrella-in-drink tropical funk, “Truth Is” is as effortless and catchy as indie rap gets.
15. Percee P ft. Diamond D-“2 Brothers From The Gutter”
Had Madlib handed these brilliant blunted beats over to Doom, you'd already be long sick of hearing about Madvillain II's excellence. Instead, that project exists only in a rap-nerd fantasy world (excelsior) and we get Perseverance, a surprisingly strong record in spite of Percee's one-note lyrics about how great his lyrics are. There's a good half dozen songs that really stand out, but this might be the best. Percee and Diamond D try to impose the gravity of their anachronistic flows against Madlib's stoned MegaMan 2 beat, full of fuzzy cheap synths, bright Mario Brothers coin clicks and after-school Nintendo nostalgia. Instead it just soars away into its own universe.